December is a wonderful season for saints. By the witness of their lives they show us ways to live in Christ’s light. Here are just some of them.
Though Nicholas is one of the church’s most beloved saints, little is known about his life. In the fourth century he was a bishop in what is now Turkey. Legends that surround Nicholas tell of his love for God and neighbor, especially the poor. One famous story tells of Nicholas secretly giving bags of gold to the three daughters of a father who was going to sell them into prostitution because he could not provide dowries for them. Nicholas has become a symbol of anonymous gift giving.
Lucy, martyr, died 304
Lucy was a young Christian of Sicily who was martyred during the persecutions under Emperor Diocletian. Her celebration became particularly important in Sweden and Norway, perhaps because the feast of Lucia (whose name means “light”) originally fell on the shortest day of the year.A tradition arose of a girl in the household, wearing a crown of candles, bringing saffron rolls to her family early in the morning on the day of Lucia.
Born to an impoverished nobleman, when Katharina (Katie) was five her mother died and she was sent to live in a convent. She later took vows as a nun, but around age twenty-four she and several other nuns who were influenced by the writings of Martin Luther left the convent. Six children were born to Katie and Martin. Though initially Luther felt little affection for Katie, she proved herself a gifted household manager and became a trusted partner. She was so influential that Luther took to calling her “my lord Katie.”
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Mary, Mother of Our Lord
The church honours Mary with the Greek title theotokos, meaning God-bearer. Origen first used this title in the early church, and the councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon upheld it. Luther upheld this same title in his writings. The honour paid to Mary as theotokos and mother of our Lord goes back to biblical times, when Mary herself sang, “from now on all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48). Mary’s life revealed the presence of God incarnate, and it revealed God’s presence among the humble and poor. Mary’s song, the Magnificat, speaks of reversals in the reign of God: the mighty are cast down, the lowly are lifted up, the hungry are fed, and the rich are sent away empty-handed.